Amid a drunk-driving scandal related to the mobile DWI testing vans, the Harris County district attorney’s office is taking a new approach to stopping those who drink and drive throughout Houston: more testing equipment. Specifically, the district attorney’s office noted that the $475,000 will be used to purchase additional intoxilyzer breath-alcohol testing units.
In addition to the intoxilyzer machines, video and audio recordings taken during a Houston drunk-driving stop will be digitally captured. The move to digital is intended to lower the costs of this type of evidence and give prosecutor’s improved access to it.
While Harris County says that the new equipment will be an asset in the fight against drunk drivers, many Houston DWI defense lawyers may think otherwise. The accuracy of intoxilyzer machines has been the subject of ongoing lawsuits by drunk driving defense attorneys in other states.
The HPD Bat vans that have been under scrutiny, previously discussed on this blog here, use the intoxilyzer 5000 to test for breath-alcohol content. A lawyer in Florida was recently granted access to the source code used in the intoxilyzer 8000 to investigate questions as to the machines accuracy in determining breath-alcohol content.
Harris County says the new testing machines will be maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). But, just over two years ago, a DPS worker faked inspections of the breath-alcohol testing devices, leading to the set-aside of over 1,000 Houston DUI convictions.
When law enforcment uses inaccurate testing measures to determine whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Houston drivers can quickly face consequences that legally they should not have to. From automatic license suspension to an actual jail sentence if convicted, DUI penalties can have an immediate impact on your life, your family and your career.
Source: Click2Houston, “HPD gets $475,000 to crack down on drunk drivers,” January 25, 2012